Scouting Arkansas Defense and Special

While Arkansas is bringing the SEC's best offense to Gainesville, the Razorbacks also will show up with one of the worst defensive units in the league. Georgia scored 52 on this team in a shootout and Alabama racked up 35 on their way to a blowout win.

Arkansas gives up 399 yards a game and almost 28 points. That's last and next to last in the SEC. They have an unusually high number of tackles for losses (39) for a defense with such poor performances because they gamble a lot. Thus they make some plays behind the line of scrimmage, but they give up big plays too.

The Gators pulled away from Arkansas for a 38-7 win last year but that's a pretty deceptive score. Florida led just 17-7 early in the fourth quarter and Arkansas had the ball around midfield. The Gators then drove for a score and added long TD runs by Chris Rainey (75 yards) and Jeff Demps (48) to put the game away.

Up front Arkansas is about what they've been with a couple of players that are pretty impressive, but only a couple. DT Marcus Sheppard can be very disruptive as evidenced by seven tackles for loss but has been inconsistent. He had five tackles including a sack of Tim Tebow in last year's game. DE Adrian Davis (3 sacks) gives the Hogs some decent speed on the outside. The rest of the line is just pretty fair.

The LB corps is good, led by MLB Wendel Davis (34 tkl) and WLB Jerico Nelson (30 tkl). Davis is a strong solid middle who had eleven tackles in Fayetteville last year. Nelson is more of a speed guy who you can run right at rather easily.

The secondary is just so-so; giving up 253 yards a game and 10 TDs. FS Tremain Thomas has the only two INT the DBs have managed in five games. They like the potential of another safety, Elton Ford. The corners are not good and Florida's struggling passing game should be able to get healthy against this group.

Overall this is not a good defense, much more comparable to Kentucky than either Tennessee or LSU. Florida can run on them all day long, but I suspect the Gators will try harder to establish their passing game with an eye towards the second half of the season.

Arkansas Special ---- Like LSU, Arkansas' strongest unit is Kickoff return. In the Hogs' case it's Dennis Johnson (33.8, TD) providing a big play threat. Their punt return has not been very good. Arkansas covers kicks pretty well, but they give up about 12 yards per punt return, but have not allowed a big one. Punter Dylan Breeding just ok-ok. He averages around 40 and has had one blocked. Place kicker Alex Tejada is 7-7 on FG, but his long is 38.

If there's going to be a big play in special teams it's more likely to be a Gator return or block rather than an Arkansas return. That's just based on how good Florida's kick coverage has been not only this year but for several years.


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